Professional Association: Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging


  • Medical doctors that diagnose and treat diseases using radioactive materials and techniques. For example they can treat hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer, lymphomas and bone pain from some types of cancer.
  • The radiation is used for treatment or is detected by a camera to take pictures of the corresponding region.

General duties:

  • Examine medical instruments and equipment to ensure proper operation
  • Interpret results of analysis
  • Prescribe radionuclides (atoms with excessive energy so they react very easily) and dosages to be administered to patients
  • Monitor handling of radioactive materials to ensure that the right procedures are followed
  • Calculate, measure, and prepare radioisotope dosage
  • Consult with patients before and after radiation treatments
  • Teach nuclear medicine, diagnostic radiology, or other specialties at graduate educational level.

What environment(s) and/or settings is this profession employed?

Office-style work environment. Work regular hours on average about 8 to 10 hours a day with relatively few emergency cases.

What are the skills/qualities needed to be successful in this field?

  • social perceptiveness : being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do
  • systems analysis: determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes. Enjoy learning about how the human body works and what causes specific responses.
  • coordination: adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions. Enjoy working in a team or in collaboration with others.
  • critical thinking: use logic and reason to identify strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions
  • active listening: listen to what patients say and take time to understand the points being made

What is the employment outlook?

Faster than average (7% to 10%) – projected job openings between 2018-2028 : 16,500

What is the average salary/earnings for this profession? What is the average indebtedness of professionals entering the field?

Average salary is $200,890 nationally vs $208,000 + in Massachusetts. Since they go to medical school, the average debt is at least $245,000.

Other healthcare professionals someone in this career may interact and/or collaborate with:

 Any other medical professionals that have referred patients for diagnosis

What kind of educational training/qualifications does entry into this career require?

Four years of medical school and at least three years of residency that involves a combination of research and clinical experience. Most of them have a PhD. In the U.S., they are certified by the American Board of Nuclear Medicine and the American Osteopathic Board of Nuclear Medicine.

Professional Interview

Daniel Lucas, MD, Radiologist at Arizona Medical Imaging

How did you become interested in the field of radiology?

Was exposed to it since my father was a radiologist.  The field has changed dramatically since his day since there was no CT, US, MRI when he trained.  When I was young, you used to hear about people going to surgery for an exploration since no-one knew where the pathology was.  That is an old expression.  With radiology, the surgeon knows 98% of the time where the pathology is.  They may not know the exact cause but radiology guides surgery and much medical care.

What training did you have, what was your path towards becoming a radiologist?

4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, medical internship, 4 years of radiology residency, 2 years of fellowship.

What skills/values do you think are the most important for being successful in this field?

Curiosity, good eyes, thick skin.  All of our mistakes are on film so anyone can review the images days, weeks, years later with added information.  They may find things that you missed or considered unimportant at the time that could become important later.  You have to be able to say that no-one is perfect and you did the best you did.

How do you think the field will change in the next 10 years?

Artificial intelligence is entering the field.  The human eye is only so good.  There are computer programs that do pixel by pixel analysis of quantitative analysis of lesions that the human eye cannot distinguish BUT a computer could detect change. It’s been about 30 years since MRI entered the field of radiology.  We’re due for something new.

Why didn’t you choose a similar profession such as a nuclear medicine physician?

Radiology is MUCH more interesting.  Nuclear medicine is called Unclear medicine—and there’s a good reason for that.

What is the best and the worst part about your profession?

The best part is that every day is interesting.  Just last night I saw a couple things on a trauma case that I had never seen before.

The worst part is that people have UNREAL expectations.  People think that medicine is drive-thru.  Not just the public, but the administrators expect all cases to be read within 30 minutes.  Some things you have never seen before, some things you have to research.  Hospital administrators do not understand this. An example I tell people is that research shows that 1 0f 10 breast cancers are not visible on mammograms.  Thus, the best you can do is 90%.  However, in court you are expected to have 100% accuracy.  See the problem!

Do you have regular hours or do they vary every day?

My hours vary and I work an evening/night shift.  But, I work from home.